Through the work of Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund, hundreds of children are already experiencing a brighter future in Israel. Here are just a few of the incredible heartwarming stories (names have been changed to protect privacy).
One night three years ago when she was only 8 years old, Rachel’s father took her along on a short drive. As they approached the outskirts of Shiloh, the darkness of night exploded around them.
Bullets from Muslim terrorists tore through their car. Rachel’s father fell over in his seat. She screamed. But this precious girl’s screams were cut short a moment later when a bullet struck her in the head. Within seconds, all was silent again.
Rachel’s father died that night. She survived – but her life had been shattered. After a series of operations helped heal her body, the trauma of that night still haunted her. Overwhelming anxiety crushed her spirit. She was afraid to go to sleep – and when she did finally fall asleep, she would soon wake up crying until her mother came to her side.
But – thanks to our therapeutic, educational, and recreational programs, Rachel is smiling again – and her shattered spirit is healing day by day. She is starting to regain the childhood that was stolen from her in one horrific moment three years ago! As her mother says, “We can see the light at the end of the tunnel!”
One terrorist wrecked Aaron’s young life when he was only 5 years old. On that day, his older brother was outside his school with a group of friends, just north of Shiloh. Out of nowhere, a hail of gunfire ended the lives of three of the boys – including Aaron’s older brother.
Even though he wasn’t there to see it, Aaron’s life changed dramatically that day. He was completely devastated. Then, this mild-mannered boy suddenly began having angry outbursts at his parents and friends – along with severe concentration problems at school.
Then Aaron’s parents brought him to us. Slowly, day by day, Aaron began to show signs of becoming his old self, even though the scars run deep. His fits of anger have decreased, and he is concentrating better at school once more.
“I lost my son,” Aaron’s mother now says, “but you have saved his brother!”
Danny, his blond hair falling over his clear blue eyes, softly stroked the little bird’s pale feathers as he gently cradled it in his hands. He could feel its heart beating through the breast feathers as he cooed to the tiny creature, communicating from his own heart in ways he couldn’t do with people.
Danny is barely 11 years old but he’s so small for his age you could easily mistake him for an 8-year-old, maybe even younger. He doesn’t speak much and communicates little. Danny has been through more than any child his age should ever have to endure. He has – or rather had – an older brother, Shmuel, whom he loved with all his heart. He looked up to him in every way and Shmuel was his hero.
On a June evening, Shmuel was waiting at a bus stop to return home to Shiloh. As he stood talking to a man beside him, a suicide bomber leapt out of a car across the street. Wild-eyed, he ran toward the crowded bus stop, shoving aside the border policeman who tried to stop him. Within seconds, he blew himself up. Shmuel died on the spot.
From the moment Danny found out, he retreated into a world of his own. His grief and pain were shattering. The little boy would sit for hours on end, silent and alone. Until the Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund’s Petting Zoo came into his life.
From the moment Danny began touching and holding the animals, some of the pain inside him began to slowly give way. Whereas before he sat alone for hours, now he would come to the Petting Zoo at 7:30 each morning, the first one there. He would hold the rabbits and birds and other animals, his body softening into theirs, his emotions opening up to these creatures.
The Petting Zoo has changed Danny’s life. Of course he still misses his brother and that will never change. But through the animals, and the skills of the caring counselor who works with him, he has found a way to release some of the agony, to come to grips with the horror he could never shake off before – and to move forward into a brighter future.
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